lecture by Aaron Watson

Neolithic people were the first to use built architecture as a technology for manipulating the senses in extraordinary ways. Between four and six thousand years ago, ritual monuments were constructed across the British Isles from earth, timber and stone. Places such as stone circles and chambered cairns are often spectacular, commanding the landscape and even integrating the movements of the sun and moon. Visual theatre has dominated their interpretation, and they have been understood as silent spaces.
Research is now suggesting that these monuments have acoustic properties. Their architecture is conducive to dynamic echoes and resonant frequencies, and some may have been situated in response to sounds in the wider landscape. When people gathered at these places, monumental sounds would not only have reinforced events but might also have evoked otherworldly forces and dimensions.
From the Neolithic houses of Skara Brae to the vast megaliths of Stonehenge, dynamic soundscapes could have been used to control and transform experience. This not only challenges the dominance of the visual in archaeology, but can also influence the ways in which we engage with the built environment in the modern world.

appearance at Tuned City
Social Acoustemologies: Hearing Contexts / 09.07.11